Q: What would you say are the three movies (horror or otherwise) that have influenced you the most, to become a writer/director?
American History X, Very Bad Things, and A Better Tomorrow. Random right?
In regards to the horror genre, I think I'm the only person on the planet that loves Tale's from the Crypt's Demon Knight. I thought it was a little bad-ass flick & knew I wanted to make something gory with a good soundtrack.
Q: Is THE BLACK HODAG a real local legend or was it something made up for the movie?
Oh it's real. There's a huge statue in Rhinelander of the Hodag- it's a green dinosaur-like beast that walks on all fours and has horns on its head and down its back. We made our Hodag more menacing by having it be more evolved- walking on two legs and hunting the hunters-type deal. We made it that way because I've seen too many big creature costumes that didn't have enough budget but they did it anyway & they looked really bad.
Q: What was the motivating factor for making BACKWOODS BLOODBATH?
I had worked for The Asylum a while back when they were making awesome low budget original horror films, and creature-features really stuck out for me. My buddies and I would go to a cabin a couple times a year in the northwoods where this town had this weird local legend called The Hodag. It's the craziest thing because they have statues, and key chains, and businesses called like 'Hodag Bowling Lanes' etc. But you travel an hour out of the town & nobody's ever heard of The Hodag. I knew the concept of the film would be intriguing for people outside of Wisconsin & at the same time be a little wink to the townies who do know.
Maybe the real motivation was that I met the actor who played The Hodag on the set of the movie 'Dragon' literally 2 months before we shot my film.
Q: I thought it was very well-written and some of that dialogue is very funny. I caught myself laughing out loud a few times. How much of the characters are based on people you know?
A lot of the dialogue is a combination of things my friends have said over the years & I knew it was going to make it into a movie one day or they're bizarre things I've heard townies actually say and thought it was too bizarre not to be in a movie. 'Cheddar Tits' was a lovely contribution by the actor playing Brick.
Q: How did you go about getting your crew and actors?
My film school really blew in that they didn't teach anybody how to use equipment or work with one another, so I always had my friends or my fraternity members serving as crew members. So by the time this film came around, everyone really knew how to work with one another and could accomplish set ups quickly.
We had a casting call for the majority of the actors. Dwight McMillan went to my high school & then became a model in L.A., so I was like 'well I know he'll show up'. It was really a process of deciding who would actually go up to the northern woods of Wisconsin for a two-week independent movie shoot.
Q: Who did the special effects? Looks like there were plenty of trips down to the local meat market....
Joe Mistretta from Four Finger Effects did most of the special make-up effects. It's funny that the crew was starving, living off the McDonald's menu, and Joe bought like angus beef for some of the shots- not just ground chuck or scraps. I was too hopped up on McGriddles and Monster energy drinks to care.
Q: How difficult was it shooting outside? It looked l ike it was very cold.
It was a bitch. Half the shots in the film are Mediums instead of Wides because the actors are standing on frost or snow. Everyone toughed it out though.
Q: What was the most fun about the whole project?
Having the actor who played Paul stand outside in his underwear in 10 degree winter weather and tell him we're going to throw warm water on him, then actually tossing a bucket of freezing water on him. The reaction in the film is real & it's priceless....he got hypothermia later on in the shoot and died later that week as a result though, so maybe it's not that funny. No, it is.
Q: Will The Black Hodag return?
I've gotten a lot of requests for a sequel. My plan is to pitch a couple companies in L.A. to get financing to make a Hodag film for the Sci-Fi Channel. If we had the backing to really realize the Hodag with some production value I think we'd really introduce an unknown American Monster onto the scene. I think people can only take so many made-for-tv Big Foot remakes- this is a Wisconsin Monster that I think would make a great Friday Night thriller. I think it would be cool too to have a documentary on the town of Rhinelander and the Hodag legend come on before the film as well.
Q: And last but not least, why do you have two "n's" in your first name?
It's so I can never find a license plate key chain at Disney World... Bastards.